[Photo Gallery] The Market at Santa Monica Place Opens

Today at 10 a.m. The Market opens on the top level of the renovated Santa Monica Place. What is it? A more corporate, less cool version of the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco. But it's still nice.

This gourmet alley has a restaurant (The Curious Palate with chef Jason Fulilove), a cooking school (The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories) and several snazzy shops peddling wine, cheese, coffee, ice cream, chocolate and the like (Venokado, Groundwork, Norcino Salumeria, Rockenwagner, N'ice Cream, L'Artisan du Chocolta, Beachy Cream, Primi Al Mercato).

We're already in love with Aurelie, "the cookie lady," or at least with her cookies, flat discs straining to defy the laws of physics by binding together the maximum quotient of pure dark chocolate with the tiniest dab of dough. Eat 'em and weep, Mrs. Fields. Your empire is not safe.

P.S. Go now. The first 500 people who show up at The Market today get freebies -- including free N'iceCream from noon to 4 p.m. -- and coupons and whatnot.

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